William & Mary

Linguistics Program to host regional undergraduate conference

William & Mary linguistics is excited to host its very own undergraduate research conference to promote the study of linguistics and share exemplary undergraduate research. The 2019 Virginia Area Linguistics (VALING) Conference will be held on Saturday April 13th in Blow Memorial Hall.

The conference is being coordinated by assistant professor of linguistics Dan Parker, lecturer of psychology and linguistics Kate Harrigan, senior honors student Valerie Bambha, and junior linguistics major Mackenzie Phalan.

Conference organizer Dan Parker said they plan to hold this conference annually at William & Mary in hopes of “inspiring the incoming students and giving the outgoing students an opportunity to talk about their exciting work” as well as “build a network and community of linguists in the Virginia area.”

The Virginia Area Linguistics Conference will be the first undergraduate linguistics research conference held in Virginia. The conference will highlight a wide range of topics relating to linguistics including but not limited to: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, field work, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and language acquisition.

Kate Harrigan speaks about why she decided to start an undergraduate linguistics conference at the College “we feel like we do undergraduate research really well here and we thought it would make a good opportunity for the students that were working on research here to potentially connect with people at other institutions.”

The wide array of linguistics research being conducted by students and faculty makes William & Mary the perfect place to host the conference. Linguistics faculty hope to create a network of local linguists and start a dialogue among undergraduates and faculty in the greater Virginia area. Additionally, the department hopes to increase visibility of the linguistics program and its research projects across campus.

Senior honors student Valerie Bambha decided to use her last semester at William & Mary to work alongside Parker and Harrigan in coordinating the event.

She was eager to get involved and is most looking forward to “meeting people from different universities and colleges who are also doing linguistic stuff because I’ve been very involved in the research at William and Mary but haven’t really heard about what’s going on at other places”

Bambha encourages other students to attend because she believes it is “a good opportunity for current linguistics students who are thinking about getting involved in research to see the cool things that other people are doing and the sorts of research that they could be involved in.”

The conference will consist of a poster session as well as select talks by students and faculty from William & Mary and beyond.

Keynote talks will be given by invited speakers Abby Walker and Matthew Lowder at the conference.

Other talks include: Persuasion in Discourse: Evaluation Strategies of Vegans by W&M senior honors student Kate Sandberg, Infants’ Use of the Verb-Event Link to Learn Verb Meaning by Lilianna Righter and Jeffrey Lidz of University of Maryland, Synthetic Speech & its Effects on Human Trust by Nicole Defoor of Virginia Tech, Documentation of Eynuin Xinjiang, China by Siyu Liang of Georgetown University, and The Status of the Word-Final Domain and Categorical Language Learning Cues by W&M senior honors student Megan Rouch.

“I am very much looking forward to getting to see some of our students really shine and talking about their work to get to see our students hearing about other people’s work too and sort of expanding their ideas about what kinds of research are possible and hearing about some work that are different from the kinds of things that we have going on here” -Kate Harrigan

The conference is open for not only linguistics students but all undergraduates at the College of William & Mary.

For more information please visit the VALING 2019 webpage.